i always do after each trip.
it's like my greatest growing time of the year haha.
and i've been thinking about how to translate those feelings and emotions into words.
i finally decided that those thoughts are better suited for my own personal journal where i scribbled for like 10 pages nonstop and poured everything out.
journal writing can be so therapeutic.
and in fact, that's been a 2017 goal of mine - to record down thoughts and feelings as they come to me so that i can not only remember those moments but also, to make myself more aware of the spirit's influence in my life guiding me.
returning home to Singapore each time always makes me feel like a kid all over again:
1. i've spent the last almost 10 years of my life overseas. that means that all that i remember of my life in Singapore are my days spent as a kid. i don't have any experience living as an adult in Singapore - working on my career, paying my own rent and bills, etc. when in Singapore, i don't have to grocery shop or do my own laundry.
2. building off point #1, everything is nostalgic to me. i remember Singapore the way it was when I lived there permanently or the way it was when I saw it last year. and i compare it with what's before my eyes. and each year, i just feel nostalgic for the way i loved it when i was growing up. things are constantly what i remember of it in the past instead of the present.
on the plane ride home, i watched the Singaporean movie, "long long ago 2" and it focused on how Singapore went from the kampong days to the HDB days. i don't think many of us appreciate how the govt created HDBs so young people like us can own houses from the start of our married lives. people who have never lived overseas probably don't understand how awesome it is but i can definitely appreciate it. and as i was visiting relatives in their homes over CNY, as i stood in their HDBs, i kept thinking about how it would have been like for them back in the day when they first selected their flats and moved in. life was not easy and people back then were pretty poor so i can only imagine that excitement at that opportunity given to them.
3. when i'm home, no matter how old i am, i'm still a kid to my parents. which means, i'm treated like one (but not in a bad way). my parents spent their days off running errands with me, bringing me to different places so i could eat all the food I wanted to eat on my list during my 2 weeks home, watching all the chinese new year movies i wanted to watch, etc. and then when i went out for dinner with my friends at an ulu place, they came and picked me up after dinner so i wouldn't have to slowly make my way home from the ulu place haha.
and then the morning i flew off, my mother helped me blow dry my hair and i felt 7 again. that small gesture took me back to the time my mother used to tie my hair for me every morning before school in primary school.
it was also great to come home everyday and just chat with my parents about what i did or what my friends are up to after my catch up sessions with them. it's funny how living away for so long, even just your parents asking you, 'girl ah, who you going out with today and where you going?" simple questions like that can make you feel loved. it's just nice to come home to people who are genuinely interested in your life.
4. traditions. this year during chinese new year, i kept thinking about traditions. i thought about which chinese new year traditions my family follows - cleaning the house and getting it ready before new year, reunion dinner on chinese new year eve, chinese new year visiting of relatives/bai nian, saying new year greetings with oranges, paying our respects to our ancestors on the first day of the new year, etc. when i was a kid, i didn't understand these traditions or even what they would come to mean to me. i just followed along and liked or disliked certain ones over the years. but as i thought about them this last trip, i'm glad my parents stuck to those traditions. some parents find that their kids don't appreciate those traditions and so they stop trying to follow them. some even simply just take the opportunity to go overseas during the public holidays. but for me, that would be like losing your heritage and culture. while heritage and culture may not be very important to some people, it's crucial to me and i would be devastated if future generations lose it. i mean, i look at my generation versus my parents' generation and already we've lost it quite a bit - 1) we can't speak dialects well, 2) we choose and pick the traditions we want to keep, 3) a lot of people rather travel than stay in Singapore and be "grilled" by their relatives about their careers or love lives, etc. i really hope that my generation can teach our kids to appreciate those traditions and that we will persevere in following them until our kids can appreciate it even if they don't now.
5. i don't have real world responsibilities when i'm home in Singapore. i don't have to worry about work and simply spend my time reliving my favorite memories of home, relaxing, meeting up with friends and reminiscing. i go out on little "tourist excursions" (haha) to places in Singapore i've never been to and just enjoy spending time with the ones i love. i also always have a habit of going through old photos, old letters, etc. when i'm packing my stuff in Singapore so it's just one nostalgic journey through and through when i'm home. and honestly, i just love it.
and honestly, i don't know why but my friends in Singapore are just on a different level (to me) than the friends i have here.
even though, if you think about it, i only see them once a year.
maybe it's because i know that i will keep these friends for life and that the ones i make here i will never see again if i move back to Singapore?
i'm not sure but i just know my friends in Singapore are the ones who have been there through all my milestones in life and will continue to be.
when i met up with cheryl, she asked me why i choose to come back home for most of my available vacation days each year instead of travelling to different countries ("think of all the places you could have seen by now")
i thought about it and i think it just comes down to what you cherish the most in your life.
to me, being able to spend time with my family in the place i call home and having those reunions with my lifelong friends is much more important to me than a new adventure any day.
home will always be my safe haven.
living overseas, there's an emptiness that keeps eating away at me each year and i feel like i get my energy to live out the rest of the year from my annual trips home.
sounds super sad but it's sadly true to a certain extent and that's why i can't skip out on my annual trips even if it means using almost all my vacation days haha.
there are many things that i'm thinking about and working through in my mind.
and the uncertainties that will be coming up in this year that might change things here and there.
we shall see how the year plays out.
Singapore, till then, stay the same.
i spent the time before my flight took off looking through my photos from the whole trip and i felt so much warmth and happiness i wanted to just freeze it up and lock it away.
and so it begins, another 12 months away from home again.
i'll just keep looking at these photos till then :)
friday clique with the addition of baby elias this year
omg one of my favorite meals - beef from new ubin seafood
my favorite girls from junior college
this year's CNY nails
the panda soft serve that made our tongue and teeth black but was so yummy hahaha
annual chinatown trip
the cousins at reunion dinner
reunion dinner entertainment hahaha. we made it a point to play games during reunion dinner and our visiting this year so it wasn't just everyone sitting around and playing on their phones and being anti-social and it was really great!
visiting ah po on the first day of the new year
lo hei. one of my favorite chinese new year traditions and each year, there are always wishes for marriage hahaha
cousins on day one of visiting
CNY day two at church with lexie and the friday cliquers
day two visiting the maternal side
love that singapore skyline
mahjong fix with the cousins on day three
catching up on local musicals
annual catch-up with the twinnie
i love curry puffs hahaha
loved the artscience museum
miss living in Singapore with all the different kaya things to eat haha
dinner at ah mai's house on day eight
the best part of chinese new year haha
saying goodbye at the airport - look at the cute pikachu in the background